tv CNN Newsroom CNN January 28, 2011 11:00am-1:00pm EST
most part protestors had been peaceful. and then ben was able to bring us the first shots of the military being brought in. apparently president mubarak saying that the army is now going to take control of security. not a good sign, as the violence continues here. a lot of questions to be asked. what does this mean for the u.s. and egypt? strong allies. what does it mean for their relationship? what does it mean for the future of president mubarak and what does it mean for peace in the middle east? it's playing out right now through the evening there in cairo. we're going to stay on this story and bring you all the various angles and tell you why you should stay tuned in and care about what's happening right now in cairo. carol costello picks it up from here. it's a busy friday. >> it sure is. thanks. live from studio 7, i'm carol costello. it's friday, january 28th.
we're following breaking news in egypt. cairo, alexandria and susays, violence is spreading. in alexandria, tear gas is thrown into the groups. city of susays, thousands turning out to the streets today, despite three people having been killed dozens wounded there. police are out in full force in kai error and they're not only targeting protestors. it's just an incredible scene on the streets of egypt today. those three major cities. president mubarak is about to speak, we believe. we're going to join our cnn network international. listen in. >> state-owned television, we want to welcome our viewers around the world and in the united states as well as we continue our coverage of the upheaval taking place in egypt. it is now just about a minute and a half past 6:00 p.m., a time when curfews are to be
imposed on three different cities. our ben wedeman is live from cairo. ben, the latest. ben wedeman? ben wedeman, if you can hear me, can you tell us what the latest is that is happening? we're not able to communicate there with ben. you're looking at ea live pictue there. just about 100 meters from state-run television. >> reporter: dramatic developments. they can't hear me. they can't hear me. >> ben, we can hear you. go ahead. >> reporter: can you hear me, jim? >> yes. go ahead. >> reporter: i'm talking. jim? >> we've obviously got some communications problems. >> reporter: dramatic developments here, jim. what you're seeing is dozens of trucks full of riot police seem
to be leaving the heart of the city. there are three armored personnel carriers with turrets on top that have moved in front of the ministry information and the television building. it's not at all clear what is happening, but it appears they're pulling the riot police out of the lines of confrontation in the middle of the city, looking to the south i see a large column of black smoke. it's not apparent in the dust -- it appears some building is on fire. as you know, the curfew is now in effect from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. declared by president mubarak in his capacity as the commander in chief of the armed forces. it seems that now the military has been brought into play. we have yet to see whether they will take the place of the hated
egyptian riot police and plainclothes policemen who have cracked down so violently on -- >> obviously we're having some problems here with communication. communications all across cairo have been disrupted this day. the internet has been taken down, people unable to text message. ben wedeman -- you're looking at pictures now from earlier in the day. it's now nighttime. this has been branded a day of rage. 80 million egyptians make up the country that is really the fulcrum of the arab borld, the fulcrum religiously, culturally. in so many different ways, this nation is the leader of the arab world. you're looking at pictures taken earlier in the city of suez, there cairo we're looking at now. we have seen demonstrations of tens of thousands of people
coming out on the streets. you are looking now live at the picture. you see the paramilitary, military units there. ben wedeman, you can hear me to tell us what is happening now, live? >> reporter: those are police. those are police. okay. those are the riot police that you're seeing, rushing to get inside those trucks which brought so many of them to the heart of cairo. it seems that they are being redeployed, but it's not at all clear where or for what purpose. but, you know, they've been battling against the protestors now for four days. but president mubarak who i'm told is currently on television now may be addressing what the situation is. but dramatic developments, jim. it's only been four days.
this regime that some of us here joke was as solid as the pyramids seems to be shaken if not stirred. jim? >> reporter: i know there's a very long delay here, but the question of the hour has to be this -- as you noted at the top of this hour, just about six minutes ago, curfews went in place in suez, alexandria, and where you are in cairo. have the demonstrators given up the streets, or do they remain to confront police? >> reporter: from our vantage point, it appears they're still out, but they're watching with fascination what is going on. the arrival of the army, it's not even an hour ago that they first started to drive up the street here. and when the army arrived, i heard people crying, god is
great, which is what they chant when there is reason for joy or great emotion. people here have a high respect for the army, which hasn't been on to the streets of egypt, involved in putting down civil unrest, since 1985. and ironically that incident was put down rioting by none other than the police themselves. now, as you can see, riot police are redeploying to the left-hand side. we're hearing bangs -- throwing molotov cocktails at some of these riot vans. so some mind-blowing scenes here in cairo tonight, jim. >> ben wedeman reporting there live. we'll check back in with ben in just a few minutes. meantime, i want to bring you up-to-date on what's been happening. as ben noted, we're expected to
hear from president hosni mubarak who has been the leader of egypt for almost 30 years. as he tries to come to grips with this crisis that is really a challenge to his authority, a challenge to his administration of a country that on one hand has made great progress, has seen some reforms but on the other still suffers under crushing poverty in some quarters. what is in effect right now? martial law. house arrest for the country's top opposition figure. and just a short time ago, the latest dramatic developments, as night fell across egypt, one thing appeared certain. the largest arab nation can't remember a day like this one. as we have noted, a curfew has now been in effect for about eight minutes on some of the major cities where there are
major demonstrations. we're talking about alexandria, suez and the capital cairo. this was the most violent day yet in a series of protests against the 30-year rule of president nose ne mubarak. protests and police exchanged rocks and tear gas in battle. there you see a demonstrator being hit by a police van. as ben wedeman was noting, a lot of people cheering that the army came out, much more respect for them in some quarters than for the riot police that are so often charged with breaking up no demonstrations. as we noted, there were massive demonstrations in alexandria, historic city, and the city of suez as well. we want to remind all of you we're looking at these pictures -- >> we're going to jump out of cnn international's coverage and take it back to dmos tick. we're awaiting president mubarak. he's supposed to speak any
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basic. preferred. at meineke i have options on oil changes. and now i get free roadside assistance with preferred or supreme. my money. my choice. my meineke. breaking news we've been following it for hours and hours. massive protests on the streets of egypt in three major cities there, cairo, alexandria and also suez. a curfew has now been instituted. the egyptian military on the streets to try to break up these crowds. we're expected to hear from president mubarak at any time, and he's to address these protests. he hasn't so far so it will be interesting to hear what he has to say. we'll join our sister network cnn international, hopefully president mubarak will take to the mike soon. let's go to cnni.
>> so they are walking a fine line here in part because, as you know, jim, there's a lot that these two governments work on together. just in september president obama brought president mubarak here to the white house to try to broker israeli/pal continuian peace. egypt has been a long key ally to the u.s., the white house watching what's going on. >> we're watching, too. we're hoping president mubarak is about to address his nation in about ten minutes time. we'll bring that to you live. ed, i have a very important question for you. obviously as the white house monitors what's going on, they also ask the question, who's behind all of this? >> reporter: that's right. >> in the past, people have said these are islamic militants. this would represent the worst-case scenario, a repeat of what happened in the iranian revoluti revolution. but when we look -- excuse me. i'm being interrupted. when we look at what's happening here, that does not appear to be
the case z. that change the whole game for the american side? >> reporter: well, not yet because, as you say, it does not appear to be the case, but we don't know for sure thaxt is a huge issue, obviously, for the u.s., ascertaining who actually is behind this, and if -- and i stress if -- the mubarak government were to fall, who is going to step into place. i mean, another aspect, of course, the u.s. has to think about is regional stability. but what kind of impact would this have on another key u.s. ally in israel? right in the neighborhood there, if all of a sudden it is islamic militants taking over. what does that mean for israel, the potential spread of terrorism? so there are a lot of tough questions for the u.s. to ask right now, and, frankly, they don't have the answers to a lot of these questions yet, jim. >> well, i think one of the hardest things, ed -- i don't know if it's being discuss at the white house or not, you tell me -- is has the u.s. pushed hard enough in the past for
those kind of reforms the. the president himself talking there, saying, i did push. >> reporter: right. he more often than not pushed in private. sort of like we saw when the chinese president was here for a state visit at the white house. in public, very warm words and in private the u.s. says that's where they push because that's how diplomacy tends to work. but i've been on plenty of trip was president obama as well as with president bush, the former president, to egypt where, in public, the u.s. presidents mostly have very, very warm words for hosni mubarak. in private, they may be tougher. but when you ask that question about whether or not the u.s. has pushed for those reforms enough, certainly not in public. i can tell you that i was in cairo with president obama when he gave that dramatic speech to the muslim world and he was fairly gentle with president mubarak there because obviously president mubarak was his host and that tends to be not what you do in public. certainly the u.s. will be asking that question now, is this a turning point where
they've got to get dramatically tougher? but is it too late? >> it all may fend on who president hosni mubarak has to say in five, ten minutes from now. ed henry live from the white house. ed, thank you for your perspective. important to note, the protests did not spontaneously happen. serious planning went into them. take a look at this picture. it's said to be from a pamphlet advising protestors what to wear, what to carry. among the items, protective glasses and a scarf to protect their mouth and lungs from tear gas, spray paint for impairing the vision of riot police behind shields. it also asks people not to post the handbook on facebook but send it to any of their contacts by e-mail instead. let's go to nile television, state television, in egypt. >> translator: the police forces have been enduring heavy
pressu pressure. >> translator: in the first place, we have to listen to the young and the egyptian citizen and their demands. and the curfew is i think a very wise decision and deployment of the army forces is for the safety of the people and the safety of the properties of everyone. so we should expect that the streets of of egypt are going to calm down and for the curfew i believe so.
the criminal acts toward the properties of both public and private properties must not go on, and the cars are being burned and destroyed, banks are being destroyed. there a there's -- there can't be reform when there's destruction going on. >> you're listening there, really important developments that egyptian public television, they broadcast nationwide, nile tv as their covering the actual demonstrations. obviously stressing some of the government's side of all of this, that there's been violence on the part of the none straigss. at the same time, our own reporting has reflected the fact that among the demonstrators there were a lot of people trying to calm their side down. a lot of fingers pointed at the riot police for the way that they were handling a crackdown against peaceful demonstrations.
but as you heard the commenta commentator -- i'm not sure who that was -- he was clearly saying of course the voices of young people have to be listened to, this is an important step from the government, officials' side, on one hand to the people in the streets. obviously that was a translation. the servers of egypt's main internet provider were taken down, all early friday. as a result of that, people weren't able to send text menls in a lot of places they didn't have internet access to some of the social media sites. following that angle is our own mohammed jamjoom. mohammed, what can you tell us about the situation? >> jim, this is something being called unprecedented in internet history. let me break this down as to what happened last night. according to a blog who does analysis for internet companies, it said all the major carriers in egypt and others were taken
offline as of last night. that left about 80 million people unable to use the internet. so the question today has been, what happens after that? let me show you a graph also provided by the blog, showing what happened at about 11:00 last night when over 3,500 providers suddenly taken offline. and we're seeing the difficulties of that having happened today. it's not just media that's having difficulty getting their reports out. it's also people who were pro r blogging, tweeting, putting things on facebook. as we know, this has been fueled by online activism and people using social media to get the message across, demonstrators out in the street. today, virtually quiet. the facebook pages that have been so active have gone quiet today. a lot of the people actively tweeting the last couple of weeks, couple of days, completely quiet. people are still trying to get the message out, trying to find
alternative means to do that, the ways they're encouraging users within egypt to do so. what we're seeing is a complete clampdown on the internet in egypt. >> mohammed, we don't know how many demonstrators are out today. we certainly can put the numbers in tens of thousands. but in a country of 80 million to think one-tenth of 1% have been out in the streets, say even 1% out there, 800,000, but when you look at what happened with the internet, the 80 million people, the 60 million people that use the internet will have felt the effects of a government crackdown, right? >> oh, absolutely. unlike anything else prosecute. the fact that it's been completely shut down, this isn't like just some minor manipulation of the internet that's happened in other places in the region, some of the stuff going on in tunisia, things in iran when there were protests there. this is a complete crackdown, complete shutdown. we've heard it echoed by ben wedeman, nic robertson out
there. you're not only feeling the anger of the protests, the anger of the people who have no communication with the outside world. we can only imagine this will anger the people toward the government. >> john jensen, a journalist with the daily news in cairo. he was at one of the protests earlier today. i want to get him in here and get him on the line as quickly as we can. john, what did you witness today? >> jim, i was at a protest on the geezer side of cairo. what started at around 500 people throwing rocks at police who were firing tear gas back at them quickly grew to numbers that our estimates are in the tens of thousands, maybe 15,000, 20,000. at one point we looked down the streets just west of the main square in cairo, and we couldn't see anything but hordes of people. peacefully chanting, mubarak,
mubarak, go to saudi arabia. we feel defiance and anger on the streets of cairo from a people that were a mixture of classes, poor, rich, and all of them have the same thing to say, we are tired of this dposgovern. >> a lot of people questioning because it came -- >> we'll step away from cnn international and take a quick break while we continue to await president mubarak. 'e's supposed to speak any moment now.
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and we're following this breaking news out of egypt. a curfew now in place ordered by the president there, president hosni mubarak. thousands of people still in the streets. the egyptian military called out. trying to get people off the streets. the riot police are there, much hated by the protestors. we've seen violence against the demonstrators and riot police, some of the protestors calling for the ouster of president hosni mubarak. this all has great implications for the united states and how it deals with egypt. egypt is a close ally with the united states. we want to go to capitol hill and to ed henry to help us understand why what's happening in egypt is so important to the united states. >> reporter: well, carol, i can tell you here at the white house it's interesting because president obama obviously considers egypt such a critical ally that, number one, when he gave his speech to the muslim world he did it in cairo, i was
there. the president wanted to underline how important he believes president mubarak is to some of america's top national security challenges. mubarak has been pivotal in trying to rally support in the region for u.s. efforts to stop iran from getting nuclear weapons. obviously egypt as well important in trying to build a foundation for lasting mideast peace. it was just last september, just a few months ago, that president obama brought president mubarak here in the white house to bring israelis and palestinians together to try to broker that mideast peace. so this is a tough balancing act for the white house as they see all of this play out. tommy veto told me the president is getting updates, got information from his national security adviser, laying out what's happening on the ground in egypt. yesterday in a session with youtube, the president did a q & a session, took questions from the general public. there were a lot of people
interested in egypt. here haes la he said about sowh some of his concerns. >> egypt has been an ally of ours with aloft critical issues. they made peace with israel. president mubarak has been very helpful on a range of tough issues in the middle east. but i've always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform, political reform, economic reform, is absolutely critical to the long-term wel well-being of egy. you can see the pentup frustrations being played out on the streets. >> ed, pause just a moment. we have some live pictures oust egypt. you know they're rare because it's difficult to get a live signal. we'll pause and listen to the protestors, then i'll ask you more questions about president obama's response to this.
>> ed, you can hear the chaos in the street, you see the black smoke. the egyptian military has been called out to get the protestors off the streets. in fact, yesterday cnn talked to one of the protestors who said he was beaten by riot police in egypt. he was wondering why the united states' response to this has been so muted. the greatest democracy on the planet, he said, why aren't you on the proestors' side even more? why hasn't the president come out and supported the protesters in a stronger way? >> reporter: well, because it's not quite that simple. the bottom line is that if the u.s. all of a sudden got behind these protestors, as you say, and it brought down the mubarak government, what comes next? what is behind these protestors? we don't have a clear handle right now. is it just people searching and thirsting for freedom spontaneously? are there islamic militants
behind them ready to take over the government of egypt and then all of a sudden we would have a much less stable government maybe spreading terror just in the neighborhood of israel and other key u.s. ally? so as much as the u.s. wants to stand up for human rights and the basic freedoms as you heard the president outline a moment ago in the youtube exchange, they have to be very careful about what comes next here, because as the president also noted, egypt has been a very e strong ally to the united states for many years, not just this administration but many administrations before this one, democratic and republican, nevertheless, as you can tell from the president's comment there's is an uneasiness in the white house about standing by the side of somebody like president mubarak who has become oppressive and you can see protestors being hit with violence, as ben wedeman and others have been reporting on, social media being cut off. he's not exactly acting obviously like a small d
democratic leader. and the u.s. is obviously very uncomfortable with that. so they have to go through this through a number of layers, carol. >> stick with me, ed. developments are happening all the time. reuters reporting there is smoke coming out of of the ruling party headquarters in cairo. we don't know much more than that, but that is disturbing. president mubarak, i don't know where he's going to give his speech from, but we understand some of his family including his son has now fled the country for a time. they're in londzen. and isn't one of the worries, ed, that if mubarak is chased out of office -- i'm not saying that's imminent or anything -- but if he is, there's sort of a power backing there because you're right, nobody knows who will take his place and whoever takes his place has to deal with the united states in some way. >> reporter: obviously you're right. and you can see these live pictures, a tank ton the street of downtown cairo. this is going to be extremely alarming to the u.s. as this continues to play out.
and they're obviously very uncomfortable with the situation playing out in the sense of the pushback from the egyptian government. but the bottom line is, the u.s. does not know what comes next here. they're watching this unfold just as we are, and if the mubarak -- as you stressed, it's a big if -- were to fall, what comes next? the u.s. has had a very strong ally and a very stable ally in egypt now for 30 years, just about, during president mubarak's time in office. but obviously 30 years in office und underscores this has not been a period of time where egyptians have tasted very much freedom. and that does not square with what the u.s. tries to promote all around the world. so this is a very delicate balancing act, carol. >> rear looking at tanks now on the streets of care cairo. i've been telling people there's a curfew now in place.
the egyptian government wants everyone off the streets. these are live pictures. reuters is reporting there's smoke coming from the ruling party's headquarters in cairo. we understand there's been violence between the demonstrators and egyptian riot police. we don't know who started what. there are differing stories coming from either side. egyptian public television saying that the demonstrators themselves became violent, but, of course, we're hearing from the demonstrators that it's been peaceful. in fact, the most the demonstrators say they've been doing ischanting, mubarak, go to saudi arabia. we're also hearing differing things, slightly differing, from american officials. i know the secretary of state hillary clinton came out in support of these bloggers who have been sort of organizing these demonstrations. some of these bloggers have been thrown into prison, some of them killed, ed. >> reporter: yeah.
and that's why obviously you're going to see u.s. officials standing up on that very point. but also interesting as well that in the last few days as senior u.s. officials like robert gibbs from the white house podium, for example, has been asked in the last couple of days whether or not the u.s. still backs president mubarak directly, robert gibbs has basically, egypt is a strong ally ever the u.s. in general, not getting specific about backing president mubarak. yet then when vice president biden was asked last night on pbs about whether or not president mubarak is a dictator, he wouldn't say that he's a dictator. so the u.s. is struggling. do we defend him in some respects and say he's not a dictator? do we back him and give him some sort of endorsement? certainly they're not going to do that right now, but they're walking very carefully here as they try to sort all of this out. >> we understand secretary of state hilalary clinton is about
to make some remarks. we suspect it will be about the situation in egypt. when she begins of course we'll take you there live. on the subject of joe biden, it was interesting that you said that because he did not call hosni mubarak a dictator, yet mr. mubarak has shut down social networks in egypt. as you can see, demonstrators aren't being allow to freely demonstrate, though the government says they've an been attacking banks and such. but you can see the tanks there on the street. it's a tough place for the united states, ed, because the he eye jipt has been very careful in kind of playing the mediator between israel and the palestinians. they've help bridging the government in iraq. they've been helpful with iran, too. >> reporter: sure. in frying to make sure and help build a coalition in the
mideast, that region and the world and stopping iran from getting nuclear weapons, which would be a huge threat to the entire world including the u.s. but nevertheless, at some point, as this continues to play out, the u.s. is going to be under enormous pressure to call this what it is, if the government is in fact cracking down, if tanks continue to roll in the streets. and if social media continues to be cut off, the u.s. is going to be under intense pressure to call it what it is. all eyes on mubarak as a dictator. they're not willing to do that yet. i would also talk about pressure and criticism this very white house faced about 2 years ago when we saw similar scenes playing out in iran and there were a lot of international credit sicks saying that president obama wasn't doing enough to back up the protesters in iran who maybe were about to overthrow that government. then when that fizzled out, there was a lot of criticism of this white house. they're acutely aware of that,
obviously, but they're also not going to rush to judgment right now. i mean, the most important thing is to have some calm, some reasonable judgment and figure all of this out. i was talking to a white house official a short time ago, talking about the fact robert gibbs moved his briefing from 1:00 p.m. eastern to 2:00 p.m. eastern. i understand from the official the reason is they're considering bringing in maybe one of their national security officials to be with robert gibbs to talk about this. they realize they're going to get a lot of questions, all of these questions we're chewing over now. so far the u.s. has been very careful, very cautious, understandable to some extent, but as this continues to play out, they're going to face more and more pressure to speak out and speak out loudly. >> i'm sure you'll be in the white house briefing today. should be very interesting. as i said, secretary of state clinton, maybe she'll address the situation in cairo, egypt. we don't know. she's speaking about colombia. if she makes remarks about
egypt, we'll take you there. we're also awaiting the president of egypt, president mubarak, to begin speaking. he was suppose to begin about a half hour ago. b he has not. when he starts his speech, we'll take you live. [ male announcer ] at&t introduces a new windows phone with an irresistible full key... oh, too much? now get an lg quantum™ for only $99.99. only from at&t. rethink possible. [ male announcer ] while others are content to imitate, we'll continue to innovate. the lexus rx. why settle for a copy when you can own the original? see your lexus dealer. home to the latestecopy depadeal making technology.inal?
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fires are burning. they're trying to break up these protestors. they just instituted a curfew. thousands of protestors have been protesting for hours now, right after friday prayers. and they're calling for their government to improve the economy there, to make their lives better. some of them are chanting they want president mubarak to leave the country. let's go back to washington and capitol hill. i understand, ed henry, you just got a tweet from robert gibbs. what is he saying? >> reporter: yeah. very interesting, carol. you and i were just speaking about the fact robert gibbs is going to have a briefing scheduled for 2:00 p.m. eastern. we were wondering whether or not he would speak out a little more as the white house has so far as the pictures have unfolded. robert gibbs put out a tweet, very concerned about violence in egypt. government must respect the rights the egyptian people and turn on social networking and internet. as you can imagine, that's now being retweeted as it comes out
from the official account at press sec for robert gibbs. it goes without saying that robert gibbs does not just sit down -- i think he has in just several months he's been on twitter has only sent out 300, 400, maybe 500 tweets at the most. yes, 580 tweets. he does not send these out often, and when he does, he doesn't just do it carelessly. this is very carefully sent out by the white house. and the fact is, they are now putting more pressure on the egyptian government and using a social networking tool like twitter to do it, carol. >> interesting. i did find it interesting that the only comments the president made on the situation in egypt was via youtube. >> reporter: well, that was only the forum in which -- it's the only interview he's done since the state of the union, which by the way interesting because i remember speaking to white house aides before the state of the union on tuesday, they were
touting the fact that 80% of the speech was going to be about the economy and domestic issues, only 20% about national security. because a lot of americans that's what they want to hear, the heavy focus the president has. but here we are just within three days and suddenly this big international and national security issue has vaulted to the top of this president's agenda. but you're right. he also could, on his own, schedule another event, come out and make some comments. thus far this president has not done that. now that robert gibbs has put out this tweet putting pressure on the egyptian government, you wonder if later this afternoon, tonight we may see the president. have no idea whether we will. but as international pressure ratchets up on the egyptian government to stop, and there's pressure on this white house to stand up for the protestors, we may very well see the president if not today over the weekend. who knows. >> we've been expecting president mubarak to speak for the next hour.
but once he takes the podium, you can imagine every eye in the white house will be turned on the television. >> reporter: big-time. >> we're joining alease from the washington bureau. elyse, we understand secretary of state hillary clinton is speaking on colombia but she may say something about ejust a minute. what do you think? >> i think she'll certainly say something about egypt. there are journalists that are going to be asking her questions and really been looking to see what this administration is doing to say. i mean, the protestors on the street are looking for a very strong statement from the united states of support, and at the same time the united states has to walk, as we've been saying, this very careful line because on the one hand it definitely wants to support those aspirations of the egyptian people and make sure that there's no crackdown, that there's no use of the security services that we've seen, but, at the same time, the egyptian government is a very close ally
of the oopgs united statunited . so the u.s. is really focusing on the rights issue, not talking about anything other than the human rights, not cracking down, making sure that the internet is not cut off. obviously yesterday t u.s. warned against that, and the government did it anyway. the message is very focused on rights. all issues right now that the u.s. is talking about are falling well short of anything resembling calling for regime change in egypt. >> elyse stay tl. ed, you, too. we'll take a quick break and be right back. to keep in balance after 50, i switched to a complete multivitamin with more. only one a day women's 50+ advantage has gingko for memory and concentration plus support for bone and breast health. a great addition to my routine. [ female announcer ] one a day women's. ♪ one for the money, and a-two for the show ♪ i like it.
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that curfew in place. we've seen armored personnel carry he iers on the streets, t on the street, egyptian riot police on the streets, all trying to get the protestors to go home. ben wedeman has been in the thick of it for hours now. he joins us live now. ben, what's the scene now? >> reporter: of the scene here is mind-boggling. the air is thick with black smoke and tear gas is kaucausins to gag. right in front of our office, the main road by the nile, we have what looks like an armored personnel carrier from the army on the main -- one of the main bridge as cross the nile. there seem to be hundreds if not thousands of protestors who are trying to get off the bridge and on to this main road. they're being stopped by about 150 riot police who have been just firing constantly tear gas, making it impossible to breathe here. of course, the tear gas is mixed
with rancid, thick smoke from burning tires and cars as well. the curfew went into effect about 50 minutes ago, but it doesn't seem any of the protestors are observing it. they continue to try to make their way into the middle of the city. egyptian television announced that president mubarak would make some sort of statement, but that has yet to come. he in his capacity as a commander in chief of the armed forces announced a curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. in alexandria, suez, and of course cairo, cairo being the scene of the biggest protests and clashes between the police and the protestors. no idea how long this is going to go or really where it's going. the protesters don't seem to be backing down on their biggest
single demand, that president hosni mubarak leave power now. >> ben, i know it's difficult for you to speak because you're breathing in all of that tear gas and the other things in the air. we appreciate your staying with us. reuters was reporting there was smoke coming from the ruling party's headquarters in cairo. do you was reporting that there was smoke coming from the ruling party headquarters in ki row. do you know anything about that? >> well, i can see down the road in that direction and there appears that there were cars on fire in front of the ruling party headquarters but from my vantage point i don't think it's on fire at this moment. there were a lot of riot police guarding it throughout the last few days. although, that seems to be very close to the most intense clashes between the protesters and the riot police but i really can't tell for sure.
>> the public television station, i suspect, is controlled by the government. they are saying that there are exceptions and extends to journalists like you and ambulances and firefighters. does that make you feel safer about roaming the streets down there? i understand you had trouble earlier. >> i wouldn't feel safe at all on the street at the moment. earlier today we were attacked by plain-clothed policemen who broke and stole our camera. one of our string gers who shoot for us sometimes, she got hit by several rubber bullets fired by the police. other journalists have been attacked by plain clothed and uniformed police. the problem is not the protesters. the protesters from the very beginning have been welcoming, happy, in fact, they they have been cheering when they see that we are from cnn. it's the government. you can sense that the police
are angry at journalists for showing pictures of what's going on and we're trying our damndest to get this out but we have no internet connection, no cell phones, no sms. i've been trying to reach my wife. the biggest challenge, in addition, of course, to the violence that the police are subjecting us to. >> how are you getting a signal up? can i ask you that or can't you say? >> i'd rather not say because it's best that we keep that sort of our thing ourselves. we have a backup system but it's also under stress because many other journalists are using the same system. >> let me ask you this question. the egyptian government and military seems to be showing some restraint over the past
several days and now all of a sudden this is happening. you can see the armored personnel vehicles on the road, tanks on the road. i can hear the tier gas being fired into the crowds. they cut off social media, attacking journalists. i mean, isn't this making it worse? >> well, certainly as you speak to every egyptian i spoke to is flabbergasted by what is going on. the violence of the police, the intolerance of discontent is wondering if they are beginning to shake from these protests. let's keep in mind, it's only four days now. regarding the behavior of the police, on the first day, on tuesday, they were under orders to be restrained. but since then a series of declarations saying there would be zero tolerance for demonstrations and that's certainly what we've seen. now, the army, as far as we can
tell, has not yet been brought into the fray. they are stationed outside government buildings. we've got one tank in front of our office. but they have not been used to suppress the crowd. now i'm seeing two soldiers walking up the street in the direction of the protesters but what is interesting is they do not have -- no, they do have automatic weapons. i thought they did. it's hard to see. my eyes are not working very well at the moment. but the army isn't in large enough numbers to replace the riot police. and the worry is that the police, the army themselves won't have -- >> the curfew has been put into place and not many people are listening to the curfew or the government. how big are the crowds that you are seeing? >> i'm sorry. how big are the crowds? >> yes. >> well, it's difficult to say
because we've got a very pan nor r panoramic view and we can see hundreds of people on the bridge. i know that there are demonstrations going on everywhere, even in my neighborhood, which is a leafy quiet neighborhood. there are demonstrations on it. these scenes are being dum pli indicated in many places around cairo, if not all -- many parts of egypt as well. >> and another question, you said that people were cheering when you said that you were from cnn and you were out and about in the crowds. we talked to a protester on the street of cairo who said he was sort of taken aback that the united states wasn't speaking out more strongly in support of the protesters. what are you hearing? >> there's a good deal of frustration with the u.s. attitude towards the mubarak government because the feeling is that the united states has
never really pressured mubarak to make the kind of reforms that egyptian people have always been demanding. what's interesting is that if you recall, president george w. bush, by the standards of any u.s. president was the harshest when it came to egypt's human rights record. but the feeling was that when obama came in, he wanted to be different from bush and kept his diplomacy more private, behind closed doors, and left criticism out of the public arena. now, right now -- are you seeing our live picture? >> yes, i am. yes, we are. what are we seeing? >> the riots are moving back and the demonstrators are moving forward. there's a soldier amongst the demonstrators. he's not stopping anybody but no one is harassing him.
the soldiers are trying to calm the crowd down but the crowd is just moving forward. i can't make out what they are chanting. oh, freedom is what they are chanting. and they are moving through -- now the police are firing tear gas back at them. but the protesters are throwing rocks and they don't seem to be driven back by that -- >> ben, let's pause and just listen for a time. thank you. >> i'm sorry. say again? >> let's pause and listen for a time. >> okay.
ben, as you're watching this, what are your thoughts? >> this is unprecedented in egyptian history. you have a mass protest going forward and the army -- nobody is attacking the army. the army is being treated with respect -- it's not agilation. people cheering and waving at them. the army is not tryinging to keep the protesters back but
they are very angry at the riot police who have been brutal in their crack down on the protest movement. but this is an incredible scene. this is history in the making. let's just listen in. we're going to break away. of course, we'll be right back but we must take a quick break. stay with us. k of heart attack. diet and exercise weren't enough for me. i stopped kidding myself. i've been eating healthier, exercising more... and now i'm also taking lipitor. if you've been kidding yourself about high cholesterol...stop. along with diet, lipitor has been shown to lower bad cholesterol 39% to 60%. lipitor is fda approved to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. [ female announcer ] lipitor is not for everyone, including people with liver problems and women who are nurspregnant or may become pregnant. you need simple blood tests to check for liver problems. tell your doctor if you are taking other medications
or if you have any muscle pain or weakness. this may be a sign of a rare but serious side effect. let's go, boy, go! whoo-whee! if you have high cholesterol, you may be at increased risk of heart attack and stroke. don't kid yourself. talk to your doctor about your risk and about lipitor. we are hitting the top of the hour. i'm carroll costello. we welcome viewers from around the world on our cnn sister station in cairo. >> these are unprecedented pictures. in modern egyptian history, we're seeing the military on the streets of cairo. this hasn't happened in a generation. that means -- >> there's something really fascinating about this, as they are treating the military with such respect.
the riot police they kind of hate. >> well, the riot police has cracked down rather harshly. the military possible seeing, as perhaps a more stable institution, so perhaps for that reason they are being welcome. and i know ben wedemen who has been covering egyptian for years has perspective on this tell me how ordinary egyptians are greeting the military and why. >> the military has always been hesitant to become involved in the nitty gritty of politics. they've always been hesitant to come into the streets and put down unrest. they don't want to be seen as the egyptian army killing egyptians in the streets. the most recent time they were out was in 1985 when they had to put down a riot by the police,
of all institutions, and in 1987 when the price of bread was increased during the time of former egyptian president sadad. >> ben, are you looking at this picture? it seems that they are overtaking the military vehicle. >> well, they are overtaking it but not in an aggressive or violent way. more -- they are chanting their support for the army. >> so what is the goal here? the army is controlled by president mubarak, right? so they respect the army but not the president. how does that jive with each other? >> well, of course, it's the head of the army is president hosni mubarak. but it's seen as an institution in and of itself, not as an apen damage of the president. and, of course, egyptians
remember the involvement in the 1963 war when the egyptian army was able to drive israeli forces away from the canal, an area that had been occupied by israel in the 1967 war. so the president has been very careful to cultivate the military to make sure that they are well paid, well equipped, the army corps is happy with its lot and that was part of simply the process is quite common in middle eastern politics of placating the army, making sure that they won't move against you. so in that sense they are associated with the president but, as i said, they've always been hesitant to be involved or forced or compelled to put down public unrest. that has always been the job, on a sort of regular routine basis of the sort of massive and unpresent security forces, the
intelligent services, the secret police, the ordinary police. >> got you. ben, stand by. we want to bring in william cohen to try to put this into perspective for us. from an american perspective. so thank you so much for joining us, secretary cohen. >> it's great to be with you. >> so you were former defense secretary. as you sit here -- if you were the defense secretary today, if you're looking at these pictures, what would be going through your mind? >> well, the first question would be the state of the military itself. you just have been carrying on a discussion with ben wedeman about the role of a military in the egyptian life. the question would become whether or not they remain loyal to the president, president mubarak. because at this particular point, at some point during the course of the next hours, he may call upon them to take more
aggressive action. right now they are simply there sharing a presence. if the protesters continue to gather momentum and continue to move toward government buildings, what will the military then do? that would be the first thing that we would look to. whether or not they are loyal to the president, whether he is going to give instruction to take a much harsher line. i would also hope that the president at some point would speak to the egyptian people to indicate that he he is willing to some of the demands that they are making, although it's not quite clear what the demands are going to be. they are obviously economic in nature and political in the sense that greater freedom, freedom of press, freedom of opportunity, economic opportunity, an independent judiciary, all of those institutions of democratic reform certainly will be part of it. but i think the president is going to have to, at some point
in the near future, address the egyptian people if he hopes to diffuse the crisis. >> secretary cohen, stand by. i believe we have -- >> nick robertson, these protests for all of you watching in the united states and around the world have taken place over the last few days, not just in cairo but in alexandria and in suiz. the world is watching and also waiting for president mubarak. secretary cohen mentioned that you would like to hear from the president. we would also like to hear from the president because we were told about an hour ago that the egyptian leader would address his people on state television. now, these are live images that we're seeing of egyptian protests from cairo, egypt. this is an armored personnel carrier. let's listen in a little bit.
i think it's amazing, it's been brutal, they have been using tear gas. you can hardly breeth. >> so this is in defiance of a curfew that reports indicate was called for by the military. we're bringing up interesting points here regarding what impact this might have. because, yes, the military supports president mubarak now. but if it starts appearing as though president mubarak has been weakened to the point where the military must make a decision as to whether or not it will continue to support the leader in egyptian, ben is on the line and may have thoughts about that. >> the military in egypt is
massive. it's huge. >> yeah, it's a very big military. and one of the critical points to keep in mind is at what point does the military and does the government, the state aboratic decide that in order for it to survive, to avoid a real revolution, what change does it need to make with the head of state and at what time does the head of state become such a lightning rod for popular discontent that is benefited -- >> secretary state hillary clinton is speaking now from washington. >> before discussing the important matters of our meeting, i would like to say something about the unfolding events in egypt. we continue to monitor the situation very closely. we are deeply concerned about the use of violence by egyptian
police and security forces against protest sisters and we call on the egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces. at the same time, protesters should also are refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully. as we have repeatedly said, we support the universal human rights of the egyptian people, including the right to freedom of expression, of association, and of assembly. we urge the egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications. these protests underscore that there are deep grievances within egyptian society and the
egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away. as president obama said yesterday, reform is absolutely critical to the well being of egyptian. egypt has long been an important partner of the united states on a range of regional issues. as a partner, we strongly believe that the egyptian government needs to engage immediately with the egyptian people in implementing needed economic, political, and social reforms. we continue to raise with the egyptian government as we do with other governments in the reform and greater openness and participation to provide a
better future for all. we want to partner with the egyptian people to live in a democratic society that respects basic human rights. when i was recently in the region, i met with a wide range and i heard from them about ideas they have that would improve their countries. the people of the middle east, like people everywhere, are seeking a chance to contribute and to have a role in the decisions that will shape their lives. as i said in doha, leaders need to respond to these aspirations and to help build that better future for all. they need to view civil society
as their partner, not as a threat. now, there is a great deal of concern also in our government, mr. vice president, about the mining disaster that killed 21 miners in colombia. and we will have our translator translate these remarks about colombia as we go along. i know president santos cut short his stay at the world economic forum to -- >> we are hearing from hillary clinton, the secretary of state. and now we're going to take you to a former u.s. assistant of state. jamie, thank you for being with us. what do you make of what hillary clinton said from her rhetoric perspective? >> it's just right.
she made clear the united states recognizes that this is a moment not to be caught on the side and emphasized the aspirations of the people in egypt. unfortunately, i think the administration and unfortunately, the mixed messages are coming through to the people on the ground and the administration seems to be driven more by fear than strategy. they are afraid of alienating mubarak but they are also afraid of being behind the curve. >> what should they say? >> that it's not just economic, political, and social change.
there has to be a transition in which the government of egyptian becomes a represented government. that means not supporting the move from the father to the son, mubarak is thought of the next presidential candidate and so far they have not been willing to cross that for fear that they he will -- >> we've heard a lot of anger coming out because they are saying that the united states gives more than a billion dollars a year in military aid to this dick tore yell government. you have not come out and clearly indicated that you support those who are fighting
and protesting for democracy and freedom and less repression? >> i think this depends on how this unfolds in the coming days and weeks. but the key point here is that this is a tough call. it is always hard to decide whether to support a close ally and friend like mubarak has been or whether to support forces on the street. but we're the united states of america, we're a country that has been built and created on democratic values. and if we're going to take a risk, i think we're always better off taking the risk that we are on the side of those pushing democratic values. president mubarak is not a democratic president of a democratic country. he's an athor tear general ruler and his policies have been
helpful to us. but if we want to stand up for what this country is all about and what people expect us to be all about, we have to come down more clearly on the side of those in the streets and those that are fighting and that is not an islamic revolution that those have feared. for now it's a revolution, generated, if it becomes a revolution -- >> we're going to have to interrupt. we're going to have to go to a break. stay with us. we're going to take a quick break. continuing coverage of the protesters in egypt. well, we were going to go to break but we just heard shots
fired. it didn't sound like tear gas. do we still have ben on the line? no. this is telling us more about what might be going on off camera there. protesters rushing in the opposite direction of what sounded like shots being fired came from. do we have defense secretary cohen with us still? >> yes. i'm still here. >> okay. from your perspective, you're watching these pictures and hearing these sounds, what does it sound like to you? >> well, from this -- from my spe perspective here it sounds like gunshots but it could be tear gas. the people were running away from those sounds. so that may be gunfire, either over their heads or toward them and they are rushing away from it, at least that appears to be the case. >> let's listen some more,
secretary cohen. >> we can confirm that that was gunfire. that was from our live position in cairo. of course, we don't know where the gunfire is coming from but we know that the egyptian military has been on the streets there for at least an hour or two. >> uh-huh. >> even if the military is calling for all of us to go home, barricade our sefts at home for the next 13 hours, we are not going to do it. even though they are welcoming the military units in the streets of cairo, it's anyone guesses how this will evolve. because this is not just three, four days of anger. this is years and years of political and economic frustration. >> so many people are unemployed. they just want a better life. that's why they are protesting on the streets. and secretary cohen, if this is real gunfire, which we believe
that it is, this has taken a disturbing turn from an egyptian perspective and also from the perspective of the united states. >> yes. in fact, it could turn even more violent and the reaction to the gunfire might energize the protesters in greater numbers with greater intensity. so it's hard to project how this is going to play out, which is one reason why i suggest that it be important for president mubarak to address the egyptian people to lay out what the future is going to be in terms of meeting many, if not all of their demands in terms of greater freedom, more democracy, greater opportunity. i think he needs to do that in order to satisfy the people that change is going to take place. hopefully it will take -- >> we're going to interrupt you because we have ben wedeman on the phone. we want from him, because he's
right there, word on what is going on with the gunfire. >> the crowd that you saw just a while ago around the army vehicle, they have now gone behind our building and they are attacking the police station that normally guards the ministry of information and the main tv building in cairo. it appears they are shooting live rounds in addition to lots of tear gas that is really just inundated our office for quite some time now and i think this is what is inevitable when there's a breakdown in egypt, is that much of the anger is focused on government and institutions, like the ministry of information, like the police as they play a central role in trying to put down the clearly failing these protests. though you can hear the gunfire outside. >> ben, who is firing the shots right now and what are
protesters doing? they are in smaller numbers but how are they reacting to this latest development? >> what they are trying to do is actually ransack the police station. the firing that you're hearing is coming from as far as we can tell. it's coming from the police. the police who have been deployed in large numbers around the ministry of information since these protests began on tuesday. you may see less demonstrators in the live picture from the front of our office but i'm at the back of our office, which overlooks this police station and -- >> right now, ben, it's a mixed bag of police of riot police and of the military and clearly demonstrators still out there on the street. we're going to stand by, ben wedeman, we're going to get back to you in a moment. all of these breaking developments out of egyptian, the most populist country in the arab world.
a barometer of what they are thinking, feeling, and an indicator of what might happen elsewhere. >> it's just a shame, from firing tear gas to real bullets, a very scary situation. we're going to take a quick break and be back with more. receiving the bronze star, that was definitely one of my proudest moments. i graduated from west point, then i did a tour of duty in iraq. when i was transitioning from active duty, i went to a military officer hiring conference. it was kind of like speed dating. there were 12 companies that i was pre-matched with, but walmart turned out to be the best for me. sam walton was in the military, and he understood the importance of developing your people. it's an honor to be in a position of leadership at walmart. i'm captain tracey lloyd, and i work at walmart. ♪
demonstrations spread to other cities, including alexandria. the demonstrators are calling for hosni mubarak to step down. we're still waiting to hear from president mubarak who was expected to speak about an hour ago. secretary state hillary clinton called for protesters to express themselves peacefully and for the government to allow peaceful protests and allow communication. but that does not seem to be happening. >> in all of my years of reporting out of egyptian, i didn't think i'd ever see this, with demonstrators and protesters, a, defying a curfew and surrounding the egyptian military and the significant time of change. we are really witnessing history and the question is, will this fizzle out and if it doesn't fizzle out, what does it mean for the aging 82-year-old leader
of europe, hosni mubarak. we've been expecting him to speak for a few hours. >> i wonder why the delay. i'm curious about that. nick robertson is with us right now. do you know the answer to that? where is hosni mubarak? >> that's what everyone is asking and there appear to be no answers here in downtown alexandria where a police station was set on fire. government buildings were set on fire. the situation feels a little calmer. there is absolutely no police presence, no military presence in the city. there's absolutely no one observing the curfew. young couples are walking around in groups of men. >> we've got to let you go for two seconds and get to hillary clinton who is taking questions about the situation in egypt. >> as president obama said yesterday very clearly and as i said, it is absolutely vital for egyptian to embrace reform, to
ensure not just its long term stability, but also the progress and prosperity that its people richly observed. egyptian has been a strong partner on a range of interests and as a partner we believe strongly and have expressed this consistently that the egyptian government needs to engage with the egyptian people in implementing needed political, economic, and social reforms. we have consistently raised this with the egyptian government over many years. we also have raised it with other governments in the region and there is a constant concern about the need for greater openness, greater participation on the part of the people, particularly young people, which is something that i was very clear about.
in doha. and we want to continue to partner with the egyptian government and people. what will eventually happen in egyptian is up to egyptians. but it is important for us to make very clear that as a partner of egyptian, we are urging that there be a restraint on the part of the security forces, there not be a rush to impose very strict measures that would be violent and that there be a dialogue between the government and people of egyptian. at the same time, we would also urge the protesters to engage in peaceful protests, which they have every right to do.
and the deep grievances that they are raising should be addressed. but the realuestion is how can we support a better future for the people of egyptian that responds to their aspirations? and as i've said before and as the president has also said, the egyptian government has a real opportunity in the face of this very clear demonstration of opposition to begin a process that will truly respond to the aspirations of the people of egypt. we think that moment needs to be seized and we are hoping that it is. >> secretary, two points --
>> we're going to leave it there. secretary of state hillary clinton saying that the government should begin a process of dialogue with its own people. earlier saying she called on the egyptian government to refrain from violence and protesters should also refrain from violence, not taking sides there. as we mentioned, so many times. a crucial ally for the united states in hosni mubarak, a wait and see approach, it seems. >> we're going to talk to jamie ruben again. he's a former u.s. assistant secretary of state. jamie, something hillary clinton just said, eventually what will happen to the egyptians is up to the egyptians. there was a clue there about how america might react to this. >> well, yes. i think she was in many ways stating the obvious that the real question that all of us are wondering about is in the coming days, if these people continue to maintain these protests on the street, will the egyptian
security forces in a large mass shoot on their own people. and that is the pivot point for any major revolution of this kind. will the security forces do the kind of ruthless measures that the iranian government took last year, last spring, when the people were on the street? and so far it's a mixed bag. right now you hear some reports that the security forces are avoiding violence and evacuating certain areas and in other cases they are obviously shooting to regain their police stations that ben wedeman was talking about. so that fundamental question was what will determine the outcome in egyptian and it will be the egyptians that make that decision. interestingly, president mubarak comes from the egyptian military. his support comes from the military. that is different than was the
case in tunisia, where the tunisian military was an independent institution and in the end played a crucial role in preventing the police and security forces of the tunisian president from cracking down and stopping those protests. so the answer to what will happen is in egyptian hands, as secretary clinton said, and it will be in the hands, really, of the security forces because it appears to me at least that the people on the ground are determined to stay in the streets, violate a curfew, take all of the measures that they can think of to regain the rights or to regain the rights that they are demanding of representative government, democratic values, and the end of this autochatic rule that has been in place. >> we have to take a quick break. stick around.
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welcome back, everybody. it's 34 minutes past the hour. some are calling this historic demonstrations under way. they are demanding that president hosni mubarak step down after 30 years in power. they are defying a curfew. as we mentioned, the army has been deployed. gunfire has been shot. we also know that the opposition figure is now under house arrest. and i know you're going to get us to ben in a moment.
but secretary of state hillary clinton expressing concern can about the situation. >> she was urging violence not to take part. but we heard gunfire not too long ago fired by the police because they are ransacking the police station in cairo. nick, what can you tell us -- i'm sorry. let's go to ben wedeman first. we heard real gunfire. what do you see? >> now they say that the protesters have withdrawn from the front of the police station and they are in front of the ministry where we see staff from that building running out possibly for what is going to happen there. one of the goals that they were
trying to accomplish -- because the government is very heavily propaganda the situation, egyptian television is often quite rosy about the situation and although to its credit it's been giving fairly extensive coverage of the events of the day. as i said, as a symbol of the state, it's a great big massive building, one that many egyptians identify with the very nature of this regime. >> are the crowds disbursing at all that you can see, ben? >> well, you know, we're so focused on this particular crowd in front of the ministry of information that it's difficult to determine what else is going on. what i can tell you, though, that apart from this crowd here, i'm not hearing the almost constant pop of tear gas being fired. we're not hearing chanting from protesters from other parts of the city. and because, of course,
communications are down everywhere, it's very hard to determine the scope of protests around the city. but certainly this one in front of the ministry of information is something that i never thought i would see. >> hey, ben, a few hours ago i was asking you this question. i remember very well, i phrased it, we are seriously now talking about egyptian after mubarak. you told me not necessarily. have the last few hours changed your perspective on things? the military, the attack against the police station and protesters defying a curfew? >> well, i always shy away from speculating on matters like this but this regime is suddenly unstable. he told me that this is the beginning of the end. is it the beginning of the end?
it's hard to say. we were supposed to hear from president mubarak well over an hour ago. he was going to address the arrival of the army completely changes the calculation. you now have two institutions and the police which is widely hated accused of brew tal tea and as you saw in the live pictures, widely admired a political institution that can step into the breach when chaos seems at the door and, of course, i remember a year and a half ago hearing -- speaking to certain key intellectuals here who said that, given the fact that there are very few options for egyptians in terms of
leadership figures around whom they can rally, the best interim solution to egypt, pending transition, because president mubarak is 82 and everybody knows that he won't live forever, the best solution for an interim government would be some sort of army control, not unlike what we've seen in turkey where traditionally the army has stepped in. >> we have a bit of breaking news. state television out of egyptian saying that the curfew has been extended to all provinces in egypt but of course not many people were obeying the curfew any way. i don't know how much effect that will have. we're going to take a quick break, ben. stay with us. [ female announcer ] enjoy a complete seafood dinner for two
the protesters are actually joining the military. this is a fluid scene. nick is in alexandria. why would this be happening, nick? >> in the last 20 minutes, the military personnel have moved over to alexandria. i'm watching another hostile military roll in. this is quite unbelievable scenes. they are waving at the soldiers and they got out of their vehicles and the police were patting them on the back. everyone is appealing to the soldiers. they are all in this protest together. they are all on the same side. and the way that the soldiers are responding, they are smiling at the crowds, allowing them to pat them on their back and hold them in their arms. it's quite an incredible scene. rather than the people running away, they are literally embracing them.
>> the same sort of scene is unfolding in alexandria. we have live pictures in cairo showing the exact same thing. what might this mean as far as hosni mubarak is concerned? >> it would maybe to establish an authority tear general view on the street and rather than facing as they were before. perhaps recognizing that the army will crush them really to put order on to the street. and it gave the impression that it wasn't clear who was making the decisions about security here. >> nic, we're going to go to frederick, who is outside of the information ministry in cairo with more of what is happening
at ground level. fred, what can you tell us? >> i'm in front of the information ministry on the ground and what has just happened is a couple of seconds ago this is a block from the entrance -- in front of this building they were sort of on the fence until a couple of minutes -- they are going around the armored personnel carriers and the people here, the armored personnel carrier, they are sensing the army and the people we are one. they are taking pictures of the military officers that are talking quite nicely to them.
it doesn't seem like right now that there's a lot of aggressiveness in the air as it was before. and the people believed the military -- it seems to be diffusing the situation a little bit and from information ministry and really it's a remarkable scene. how the people are greeting these soldiers and the aspiration with the civilian that they consider the military
to be a better option. i know the area around the information ministry there. it's right there with the view of the nile and i could only imagine, we're seeing those images now and it seems as though an atmosphere -- >> such a strange development from an american perspective and now they have sort of joined forces. hosni mubarak was supposed to speak an hour and a half ago. he hasn't appeared. it kind of makeses y you wondert the dynamic is here. >> we were about an hour ago expecting them to address the patriots on state television. he is a no-show. we don't know the reason for the delay and, most importantly, we don't really know what the next few hours are going to bring with all of the egyptians, and there are thousands, out on the streets. >> isn't it possible that the military could overtake the government? >> it's extremely possible.
what are your thoughts fareed as we watch these protesters being greeted so warmly by the military? fareed? can you hear me? >> yes. >> what are your thoughts, fareed, as you watch these protesters greeting the military so warmly? >> well, the egyptian military is probably the oldest, most well functions institution in egyptian that they have had in a long tradition of a very strong state and it's quite incredible because this is the oldest society in the arab world with a deep and sophisticated culture with an authentic middle class and also the oldest state with a
very long tradition of administrative control and a very powerful military. and both sides are trying to test the other to see which will give. >> and it's interesting, fareed, because what could be a most mubarak scenario for egyptian and what role would the military play in that post mubarak scenario? >> well, i think any scenario involving mubarak, they will have to support any process put in place. my guess is that they are going to want to play a role that is behind the scenes, not right in front. i think somebody hosted, i think it was nic, something like the turkish military. but the key issue is what is hosni mubarak thinking, because he had an opportunity a year ago
to peacefully begin a political evolution. he decided not to do that and had given every indication that he was going to run for re-election at 82 and ailing. that sent a signal to the entire society that they were in for another decade, potentially, of this military dictatorship backed by military and i think that killed the sense that egyptian was evolving because there had been reform and opening. so there was a rising expectation that mubarak crushed. the question is, is it too late now for him to go back and try to provide some scenario for political reform which would prevent some kind of a revolution. >> i'm sorry. go ahead. >> this is carol costello. i was wondering, because we had heard that his son may take over a leadership role but we believe his family has fled the country and that they are in london. so what do you make of that? >> reporter: what i heard was that his son was already in
london and has stayed there. i'm not sure what to make of it. i would be surprised if mubarak has fled because it would seem more likely that he will try and do something, to broker some kind of a deal. but in any event, the decision remains his, whether he's in cairo or london and my suspicion is that he is in cairo. and will he have to decide whether he will get in front of this change or whether he's going to be dragged, kicking and screaming. >> yeah, that is the question. thank you very much, fareed zakaria. the question is, if he speaks, who is left to listen to him right now in egypt. >> that's right. they are seemingly all on the streets and doing their own thing. >> and how much credibility does he retain? we're going to take a short break and we'll both be right back with our live coverage of the demonstrations in egyptian. ♪ [ male announcer ] not all steel is created equal.
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i'm carol costello. we're following developing news out of cairo, egyptian, out of alexandria. protesters continue to demonstrate in the streets despite a curfew that has now been imposed for an hour or so. >> almost a couple of hours until 7:00 a.m. local imposed on all provinces. it doesn't seem like many people
are respecting this curfew, on the contrary, and we've had a major development of the military hitting the streets and protesters seemingingly embracing the military. >> patting military members on the back, running along the personnel carriers. ben wedeman is in the thick of it. what are you seeing? >> we're seeing a fairly large crowd chanting in front of the ministry of information and state television but no clashes or tear gas being fired at the moment. the army drove by about 15, 20 minutes ago with five or six personnel carriers and they deployed on the far side of the state television building. we were thinking that they would storm the state division but they seem to be chanting outside and looking over at this bridge,
which was the scene of a lot of running battles between the protesters and the police, there's cars up there, much quieter. all of the action is in front of the ministry of information. >> ben wedeman, thank you for your fine reporting. it's been amazing and under rough circumstances as well. >> absolutely. they have been roughed up today. their camera was confiscated. they've had to do their work through clouds of tear gas. all of the crew on the ground and journalists there and i'm going to stay on. my colleague, jim clancy is coming in. >> but i will depart. thank you for staying with us. we'll be back, though, right after this break.